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Next steps on tackling Cambridge congestion published

Published: Friday, January 6, 2017

The results of public consultation on Cambridge congestion-busting plans – and recommendations for next steps – are published today.

More than 10,000 public responses were received during a three-month campaign to test the eight-point plan proposed by the Greater Cambridge City Deal last year.

With daily trips into the city set to rise by 25,000 over the next 15 years, local authorities aim to keep business thriving - and people moving - by reducing reliance on car travel in favour of public transport, cycling and walking.

Plans for a series of rush hour ‘road closures’ in Cambridge should not be progressed in efforts to tackle congestion, the report concludes.

Public feedback on a package of measures to ease city centre travel showed the majority of people would not support proposed peak-time congestion control points (PCCPs) on key routes to curb the city’s gridlock.

Following careful assessment of all responses, officers have recommended that:

  • Time be taken to investigate an alternative to PCCPs that is both ‘deliverable and acceptable’ as a means of managing peak-time traffic levels, increasing bus reliability and reducing the city’s serious air pollution problems.
  • That alternatives could include physical or fiscal interventions as a means of reducing private car journeys. A citywide congestion charge is not part of the proposals.
  • All seven of the other eight original proposals should be pursued – including exploration and design of a Workplace Parking Levy, in close consultation with employers, linked to options for employers as peak-time traffic generators to offer both employees and site visitors alternatives to the car.

In parallel, councils will shortly consider consulting residents in many parts of Cambridge on Residents’ Parking schemes.

As a direct result of feedback, the Board is also asked to consider specific measures to tackle air pollution for the first time - for example through targeting the worst polluters or fiscal intervention through introduction of a Clean Air Zone.

The recommendations will be considered at public meetings of the Greater Cambridge City Deal Joint Assembly and Executive Board on 18 and 25 January respectively.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Cambridge City Council leader and Chair of the Executive Board, said: “Having now reviewed all the evidence from over 10,000 responses, the recommendation is for seven out of eight of the City Deal schemes consulted on to continue to be developed, including plans to consult on a Workplace Parking Levy. “Officers advise peak-time ‘road closures’ or control points be ruled out of future plans.

“A city-wide congestion charge for people travelling in, and for residents, is not proposed for very similar reasons. Too many individual and business journeys would be unnecessarily affected and it will unduly hurt low income city and South Cambridgeshire residents – and those from further afield – who currently have no option but to travel by car to work in Cambridge, often to jobs involving unsociable hours.

“Instead, officer proposals add two targeted measures to reduce vehicles entering central Cambridge and increase bus reliability. First, local interventions in the most congested areas of central Cambridge and second, a potential Clean Air Zone option to cut vehicle air pollution.

“No solution is going to be pain free but the City Deal’s commitment to working in partnership with business and the community to deal with this problem remains, including further future dialogue before final decisions.”

Easing city centre travel is part of a broader strategy to develop a transport network for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire that can accommodate a growing number of journeys generated by population and jobs growth.

Between July and October, the City Deal tested its eight-point package to tackle congestion with the public. It included:

  • Better public transport and better Park & Ride options
  • Better cycling and walking facilities
  • Peak-time congestion control points to tackle congestion and improve bus reliability
  • A Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) to discourage private car journeys and raise revenue to reinvest in improved public transport.
  • On-street parking controls to discourage commuter parking in residential areas (being progressed by the councils separately).
  • Smart technology to help people make smart travel choices
  • Further investment in a travel planning service to help people and businesses adapt
  • Improvements to public space and an increased focus on tackling air pollution and improving roadside air quality.

In all, 10,970 individual responses were recorded and three petitions received, opposing PCCPs, with a total of 10,590 signatures.

Improvements in air quality and bus journey times and reliability in central Cambridge were popular requests during the engagement and officers have underlined in the report this can only be achieved by introducing some measures to restrict vehicles accessing the city and have also recommended the assessment of a Clean Air Zone.

Officers recommend progressing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL), in close consultation with employers, to determine how revenue could be best reinvested to support business including to encourage modal shift from major sites and improve public transport services for them. It is expected to take at least three years before a WPL could be introduced.

The report is subject to decision, with a commitment to any further work subject to close consultation with members of the public, businesses and transport partners.